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The Vanishing: Shakespeare, the Subject, and Early Modern Culture

The Vanishing: Shakespeare, the Subject, and Early Modern Culture MLQ ƒ June 2002 In the first pages of Hamlet in Purgatory Greenblatt confesses the historicist credo: “I believe that nothing comes of nothing, even in Shakespeare.”1 This is the restricted economy of historicism, the fundamentally closed universe of eternal matter that Jacques Lacan attributes to Aristotle: “Nothing is made of nothing. The whole of ancient philosophy is articulated around that point. . . . it remains mired in an image of the world that never permitted even an Aristotle . . . to emerge from the enclosure that the celestial surface presented to his eyes.”2 If we substitute history for celestial surface, we find ourselves in the planetarium of historicism, at once awed and comforted by the overarching effect of totality it hypnotically provides. Pye’s book fractures the crystal dome of literary historicism, using as a wedge Lacan and his most astute political readers, including Ernesto ˇˇ Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Claude Lefort, and Slavoj Zizek. In his introduction Pye distinguishes between the “multiplicity” of perspectives, sources, and causes celebrated by historicism and, following Laclau and Mouffe, the “hegemonic” character of the social field, “the fact that any cultural phenomenon exists always in relation to a necessarily forced http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History Duke University Press

The Vanishing: Shakespeare, the Subject, and Early Modern Culture

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by University of Washington
ISSN
0026-7929
eISSN
1527-1943
DOI
10.1215/00267929-63-2-251
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

MLQ ƒ June 2002 In the first pages of Hamlet in Purgatory Greenblatt confesses the historicist credo: “I believe that nothing comes of nothing, even in Shakespeare.”1 This is the restricted economy of historicism, the fundamentally closed universe of eternal matter that Jacques Lacan attributes to Aristotle: “Nothing is made of nothing. The whole of ancient philosophy is articulated around that point. . . . it remains mired in an image of the world that never permitted even an Aristotle . . . to emerge from the enclosure that the celestial surface presented to his eyes.”2 If we substitute history for celestial surface, we find ourselves in the planetarium of historicism, at once awed and comforted by the overarching effect of totality it hypnotically provides. Pye’s book fractures the crystal dome of literary historicism, using as a wedge Lacan and his most astute political readers, including Ernesto ˇˇ Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Claude Lefort, and Slavoj Zizek. In his introduction Pye distinguishes between the “multiplicity” of perspectives, sources, and causes celebrated by historicism and, following Laclau and Mouffe, the “hegemonic” character of the social field, “the fact that any cultural phenomenon exists always in relation to a necessarily forced

Journal

Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary HistoryDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2002

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